Saturday, August 30, 2008
A Cambodian man's dream of marrying a foreign woman
These lovelies from Malaysia popped by to buy some bags and Chhun Hy insisted on me taking a photo of him with the women! Chhun Hy is very charmed by Malaysian women--he thinks they are very pretty. He and his family from Kampong Cham would like him to marry a foreigner. I always assumed it was because the family wants Chhun Hy to marry into wealth, but the reasons are more layered than that.
If Chhun Hy were to marry a Khmer woman, he would have to pay a dowry of USD2000-3000 to her family. On top of that, he and his future wife would have to share to pay for their wedding ceremony, about USD1000 each. He feels that it is too expensive for him to marry a fellow Cambodian, so that is why he'd like a foreigner for a wife.
I find the whole idea ridiculous. There are so many poor people in Cambodia--don't tell me they cannot get married? Chhun Hy explains, "Yes they can, but they would have to marry another poor person. But if you want a house, a motocycle, a business, you need to marry a rich woman."
But you will have to pay a lot of money to marry this rich woman, I reminded Chhun Hy. But it is a small investment, he argues. He keeps repeating,"In Cambodia, [it is] like this. Also in Thailand, men want to marry rich women."
Because Chhun Hy is the only one living with foreigners (he lives with us), can speak English and is taking computer lessons, and has tripled his income in a year, he is his family's hope of a better future. So they continue to dream of him marrying a foreigner. I try to explain marriage is so much more than money, but I fear it falls on deaf ears.